Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Getting to Terse III

Attended my first Kindling Words conference this past January. Had an awesome time.

March Novel Madness (MnM) was born from that event. Based on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), MnM had several of us committing to a set goal each day for the month of March. Spunky cheerleader that she is, Alison James got us up and running. She sent everyone a little calendar to keep track of our word count. She also sent 31 M & Ms to each of us so we could reward ourselves for every day we completed our goal.

I committed to 1,000 words a day, and since I also teach two days a week and wouldn't be able to write every single day in March, I started my stint in February.

I'm a middle grade novelist, who has never written a novel. Go figure. But I do indeed figure – full-time teaching, life, other writing interfered. Fear of the blank page had no small part in it, so I decided to take the zero draft approach for MnM.

As mentioned before, a zero draft is basically dumping everything that you have in your head onto the page. This approach seems like the right one for me, since I'm a tinkerer. A tinkerer who hates to start, because everything I always write seems like junk as soon as it's on the page. As soon as I start tinkering, I lose the momentum of my writing. You lose so much when you lose momentum. If you're a coward and a tinkerer like me, having something to work with is everything.

I came up with rules for myself pretty quickly. Don't use my wireless mouse or the little finger mouse-pad type thing on my laptop. No using the pg up or pg down key. I did allow myself to backspace, but only just a few backspace taps. No correcting spelling mistakes unless I had a really good reason to do so – like I'd never be able to interpret it once I went back to read it.

That was the other rule. I didn't allow myself to read anything I wrote the day before. To combat any memory loss from the day before (funny how that happens), I usually ended the session with a little note to myself where I might start the next day. I did allow myself to read that.

I set a time limit for myself. 1,000 words or 1 hour, whichever came last.

And, so, I began. I'll write more about this on Friday. Don't worry, I am getting to terse. It's just that you have to be so verbose to get there!

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